USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Denver Broncos 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

Don't sleep on the Broncos pass catchers in 2021. Here's a breakdown of the roster for fantasy this season.

It has been a long time since the Super Bowl, and remembering exactly how things left off last year can be a challenge. So, I’ll be writing up a fantasy preview for each NFL team to give us a quick refresher on what happened last year, and what changes took place in the offseason. All fantasy stats will be in ESPN scoring format unless otherwise noted. 

If I missed any change or left out any big notes, throw them down in the comments for me!

What Did They Do Last Year

The Broncos went 5-11, and they appear to be gearing up for another year in quarterback purgatory. Unfortunately, while Denver fans dream of their franchise’s second resurrection fueled by the deliverance of an aging all-timer, Denver brass have passed on Justin Fields and traded for Teddy Bridgewater. 

Vic Fangio (head coach), Ed Donatell (defensive coordinator), and Pat Shurmur (offensive coordinator) are all coming back for another run at it.

If you can look past the lack-luster QB room and lineup of ho-hum coaches, then there are a few things to be excited about in Denver…

Quarterback
OVR
Rank
PlayerGCOMPATTYDSTDINTATTYDSTDFFPFFP/G
24Drew Lock132544432,9331615441603179.313.8
46Jeff Driskel3356443232628028.19.4
59Brett Rypien22740295245-5011.35.7
83Kendall Hinton1191302270-2.8-2.8

Some in Denver were excited after Drew Lock’s hot, five game run to close the 2019 season. Watching Lock’s 2020 surely dampened that enthusiasm. 

In response, team brass traded a sixth-round pick for Teddy Bridgewater, and while that is a good football move, bringing in a top-flight backup quarterback just doesn’t get the kids excited like it used to. 

While several teams will have to wear the ‘we passed on Justin Fields’ badge of shame, the Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will be the vanguard of that Cerseian walk of shame if Fields pans out (WHEN Fields pans out, sorry). 

Wide Receivers
PPR
Rank
STD RankPlayerGTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
4337Tim Patrick1579517426110.27.3161.210.75
4644Jerry Jeudy16113528563103.66.5155.69.73
8582KJ Hamler125630381360.1590.17.51
105107DaeSean Hamilton124423293239.33.362.35.19
172176Tyrie Cleveland5966306.31.312.32.46
179174Courtland Sutton1636606.66.69.69.6
186183Diontae Spencer4632604.51.17.51.88

The Broncos wide receiver corps is, no doubt, one of the best in the league. Cortland Sutton (6-foot-3) was on pace for a monster year before being lost for the season in Week 1. He’d posted 704 yards and 1,112 yards in his rookie and sophomore season respectively.

Jerry Jeudy (6-foot-1) had a great rookie season, all things considered, pulling in 52 of 113 targets for 856 yards and 3 touchdowns. More than the production, Jeudy looked like a top-flight athlete when he was on the field full of top-flight athletes. While we can guess, we can say we know when a rookie will hit, Jeudy has gone out and done it. 

Tim Patrick (6-foot-4) has taken a circuitous route to what will no doubt be a huge and well deserved payday (JT Matthews of Mile High Sports penned an excellent piece diving in to Tim Patrick’s journey). Long story short, after Patrick went undrafted in 2018, he’s been buried on the depth chart, but he got his chance in 2020 and ran with it. The Broncos put a second-round tender on Patrick in the offseason, signaling they’re not about to just let him walk. Patrick should be a target on your dynasty teams, and he’s well worth a shot in redraft leagues. 

These Denver receivers are primed and ready to destroy shrinking secondaries. While other teams feature sub six-foot X’s, Denver clearly believes size matters. 

Running Backs
PPR RankSTD RankPlayerGATTYDSTDTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
1412Melvin Gordon15215986944321581168.411.2200.413.36
6661Phillip Lindsay111185021147280595.4666
8588Royce Freeman11351700131281025.12.337.13.37
147146LeVante Bellamy2411011501.60.82.61.3

The Broncos let Phillip Lindsay walk… eventually, and he’s now the best back on the Houston Texans roster (more to come on this in the Texans preview). 

But, it was the 2021 draft where the real fireworks got going for the Denver backfield. The Broncos swapped a fourth-round pick for a sixth rounder from the Atlanta Falcons to move up five spots in the second round to draft running back Javonte Williams.

Related: Worst Rookie Landing Spots for 2021 Fantasy Football

The clock is now ticking even faster for Melvin Gordon.

Gordon is still going in the middle of the 5th round (per fantasyfootballcalculator.com) and is currently our RB23 for 2021 fantasy (thanks in large part to Pete’s hype surrounding him), but I have a sneaking suspicion that his ADP will fall as Javonte Williams’s end-of-the-11th ADP rises. I have Williams as my RB30 for this year.

Tight End
PPR
Rank
STD RankPlayerGTGTRECYDSTDSTD PTSSTD PTS/GPPR PTSPPR PTS/G
1013Noah Fant149362673385.36.1147.310.52
6662Albert Okwuegbunam41511121118.14.529.17.28
6368Nick Vannett11211495115.51.429.52.68
7372Troy Fumagalli7158801142223.14
103113Jake Butt342500.50.22.50.83

Noah Fant had a solid sophomore season, pulling in 62 of 93 targets for 673 yards and 3 touchdowns. On tape, he looks like he could end up as one of the best tight ends in the league, but he’s hamstrung by playing in an anemic offense chock full of explosive weapons. He’s currently ranked our TE15 for 2021.

The Schedule

This is the most hopeful piece of the puzzle for Denver going in to 2021 with, essentially, the same team that went 5-11 last year: 

Warren Sharp’s strength of schedule forecast has the Broncos facing down the seventh-easiest schedule in the NFL. 

Warren Sharp does some of the best work in the business, and his strength of schedule projections are great for identifying breakout situations like we have here in Denver. 

Before getting too excited about the Broncos, it is reasonable to ask: So, is Drew Lock just going to all of a sudden just get better? 

Well, one way to ‘all of a sudden get better’ is playing an easier schedule. While last year the Broncos ended up playing a harder than average slate, Sharp’s projection shows an easier road to hoe in 2021. 

What Does It All Mean?!?! (AKA – Bold predictions)

Despite a near-hopeless QB situation, target the Broncos wide receivers. All their value is being suppressed because of people’s worry surrounding Lock and Bridgewater.

As for the running backs, Williams’s and Gordon’s ADP is not quite settled. I hope both end up slipping to the sixth/seventh round range, and I’d be happy to take on Williams at that price.

Noah Fant’s ADP feels about right (TE7, 7.12) and carries no interest for me if Lock is the QB. If Bridgewater is tabbed as the starter, though, I’ll gladly take Fant as a consolation prize in the seventh. 

Broncos arrow up.

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Thanks to FFToday.com for hosting such great stats info!

Thanks to TheHuddle.com for their great Coaching Change Tracker